Archive for January, 2012

The Science Behind Bathtime Prep

It's tubby time! YAY!

Mason loves to take baths. We call them “tubbies.” It’s one of the few words he recognizes. Say “tubby” and Mason runs for the bathroom. Nice hot (but not too hot) water, suds and squirt toys resembling ocean life…who wouldn’t love a frolic in bath land? It’s one of Mason’s favorite activities…and one of ours as well. We both play with him and get him washed up, and even the cats stop by to say hello now and then. Tubby time is family time. When it comes to getting a tubby ready, however, there is a specific protocol that must be followed in our house to prevent tantrums and screaming…and it still doesn’t work.

Mason is very akin to sounds. The garbage can creaking open, the refrigerator opening…the bathtub faucet being turned on. It makes him run for the sound’s origin so he can get involved. The issue is, it takes the tub a while to fill, and our water heating system is somewhat inconsistent. Mason’s bath water gets its perfect temperature from letting extremely hot water cool down as the boiler needs to work harder, and then adding a spot of water that’s been heated on the stove. You can see the issue as the initially superheated water starts flowing, and Mason rushes to the bathroom to get his hands wet. Of course, removing him from the situation, no matter how justified the reason, results in screaming and the cycle of doom (see this prior post).

The solution to this dilemma is to provide an ample distraction for the boy when it’s time to start the tub water. Examples of these distractions include Special Agent Oso, his Camaro model that moves and makes noise, or a surprise visit from the Tickle Monster. Usually, the diversion begins a minute or so before the tub starts to fill. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In many cases, Mason’s cat-like ears immediately pick up on “tubby water” and he’s off.

The other problem arises when it’s time to add the boiling water from the stove to perfect the water temperature. In order to carry the pot, I need two hands, which means I can’t open the door, which means the door must be ajar, which means Mason wants to be there, which means Holly needs to distract him. Mason knows adding the pot of water is the last step before tubby time, so there’s no convincing him to do anything else. Scream, scream, scream. Of course, the story has a happy ending. Once the stove water is added, the tub is at the right temp and Mason can play with all the squirting sea creatures and bubbles.

It’s so funny how everything has turned into a process since Mason blessingly came into our lives. I never knew strategy and military-like regimens would play this large a role, especially for something as simple as a bath. Thank you, Admiral Mason, for making tubby time fun and full of structure and policy!

Tough Times in Story Land

Mason is 15 months old now. He’s walking, nearly talking, and is interested in so many things it drives me nuts. Reading is not one of the things that piques his interest. Whenever I try to sit Mason down with a book, he’ll sit for a moment and stare at the pictures, grab the book and walk away with it, throwing it to the ground with drool markings to prove he touched it.

Reading is important. Each day, parents are encourage/guilted into reading to their child, no matter how young. Commercials and ads show images of children smiling as Mommy and Daddy read them a lovely story. The children are perfectly behaved and appears engaged and yearning to turn the page to find out if Pooh gets his hunny.

What these ads don’t tell you is that some children don’t like books. Some children would rather run after cats, topple humidifiers, throw balls down stairs and fish through the garbage. These kids are nowhere to be seen in the ads. I wonder why!

My proposed Halloween costume for 2012. Maybe if books actually did this, Mason would want to read with me.

They say the earlier you read to your child, the better. Exposing Mason to books ensures word recognition, visual spacing and verbal development. Sure, he’s just 15 months old, but I can still have high expectations, right? 🙂 So it worries me when he wont sit down for 5 minutes for a quick story about anatomy (Eyes, Nose, Knees, Toes) or Sleepytime (Bedtime Stories). He does like the two books that have buttons that play sounds/music to go with the story, but he doesn’t open the dang book! He just hits the buttons and smiles. Hey, at least he’s happy!

If October comes and Mason still isn’t into reading, I plan on dressing up like the above cartoon. Perhaps if books walked and talked, Mason would be more interested. If not, I could always project words on his bedroom wall all night long. Or use his food to form words when serving him meals…

One way or another, this kid’s gonna read!…on his terms… *sigh* 😦

$@#&*! Handling Fatherhood Stress

The stress ball. Any father should have several hundred.

It’s true…the older kids get, the more stressful my job as a father gets. Mason is like a puppy in some ways. He wants to get into everything, and he hasn’t learned what “no!” means yet (though “light” and “dinner” have become familiar to him). If I began to describe the sheer frequency of my trips to the fireplace, toilet, trash can, spare room door, etc…I’d jump off a cliff. Dealing with Mason’s household expeditions is like dragging a never-ending chain of daddy doom:

  • Toddlers want to explore.
  • Exploration leads to mischief.
  • Mischief creates discipline.
  • Discipline results in a screaming child.
  • Screaming stresses Daddy out.
  • Rinse. Repeat.

A favorite professor of mine had a phrase he liked to use when describing toddlers and the tantrums that come with their current life phase.

“There is no such thing as the ‘terrible two’s or three’s.’ These children are learning their natural boundaries!”

-Prof. Chris Arnold

Thanks, Professor. As many times as I repeat this phrase over and over with each trip to the (insert “hands-off” household appliance here), I still have the urge to dunk my head in liquid nitrogen and bang it against the kitchen counter. I get it, Mason is exploring this new world of his, and walking allows him to reach higher, farther, faster, etc. In time, he’ll hopefully get used to all these things and leave them alone…ha! What a pipe dream.

So I guess I’ll just have to wait until the word “no” enters his tiny head as a signal to cease and desist current activity. We’ve also tried explaining to him why we are saying no, but if he doesn’t get “no,” will he get “because A, B, Y and Z?”

:::grabs stress ball:::

Until next time…

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